A new study has found that some older Irish emigrants may have left the country because they suffered abuse.
According to the Irish Independent, new research indicates there have been significant differences in the life experiences of earlier generations of emigrants, with many more developing problems with alcohol and later feeling socially isolated when they returned to Ireland.
When the Economic and Social Research Institute study examined the causes and consequences of migration amongst Irish people aged 50 or over (most of whom would have emigrated between the 1950s and the 1980s) it found that a much higher proportion of these now returned emigrants had suffered physical or sexual abuse in childhood compared to those who never left Ireland.
Some 16 percent of men who had been away for up to a decade had experienced abuse compared with 10 percent of those who never left, while amongst returned female emigrants it was one in eight, compared with one in 12 of women who remained in Ireland.
The study found that significantly more male emigrants reported that their parents had had drug or alcohol problems.
Meanwhile, up to 15 percent of male emigrants reported an alcohol problem compared with 7.6 percent of men who never left Ireland.
But female emigrants who stayed away from Ireland for over ten years were less likely to develop a drink problem than women who stayed, which the report reportedly said suggested a 'favorable migration experience.'
A contributing factor may be that for Irish women of earlier generations, emigration had allowed them a level of economic independence not available to those who had stayed.
The new study also found worryingly high levels of social isolation amongst emigrants who returned to Ireland.
Some 30 percent of men who remained in Ireland all their lives reported being socially isolated to some extent, but this rose to between 45 percent and 62 percent of returned emigrants.
The survey of over 8,000 people aged fifty and over in Ireland found that 24 percent of men and 21 percent of women had lived abroad for at least six months, while close to half of them had stayed away for at least ten years.